Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wednesday in the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (I)
What We Were Sent to Do…

Readings: Colossians 1:1-8; Psalms 52:10, 11; Luke 4:38-44

Probably not too many of us will have experienced having crowds of people clamouring for our attention the way Jesus does in the gospel. We are told that at sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases… brought them to him… And even at the crack of dawn, the crowds went to look for him… Whether it was day or night, people couldn’t seem to leave Jesus alone.

But even if we may not have to face the same crowds as Jesus did, it’s probably more than likely that each one of us will have the experience of having the various people in our lives make different demands upon us, upon our limited resources of time and energy. And one cannot meet all these demands at once. To say yes to one often means having to say no or later to another. And the simple policy of first come first served doesn’t always work either. What if the one who comes second has a more urgent need than the first? Or what if the one who comes third is a close relative? Amidst the chaos of daily living, one often has to choose among the different demands that others make upon us, as Jesus does today. How Jesus does this is instructive.

As is often highlighted in Luke’s gospel, Jesus goes to a lonely place and prays. Even (especially?) when the crowds are large and the needs are many, Jesus takes a time out. For him, prayer is clearly less of an obligation than it is a necessity. The gospel makes this clear to us because not only does it tell us about the fact that Jesus prays, but it also gives us some insight into the effect of his prayer, as well as its likely content. Jesus’ prayer helps him to decide what to do in the midst of the various demands that others are placing upon him. Finally, he decides to leave, even though the crowds urge him to stay. But what Jesus decides is probably less important than the criterion he invokes: that is what I was sent to do. In order to make a decision about how to respond to the needs of others, Jesus takes time to converse with the Father, and to recall who he is and what he was sent to do. And this time out results in a decision that is as wise as it is difficult. As a result, we see the beginnings of the process described in the first reading and that continues today: the Good News… is spreading all over the world…

In the hurly burly of our own daily existence, it is too easy to be distressed and distracted by the various demands that others place upon us. What steps do we take to recall, at least from time to time, who we are and what we were sent to do?


  1. Thanks, Fr Chris, for the insight into taking time out to commune with God in order to discern what is the 'best' course of action. This often entails a choice between two courses of action which are good, though not equally. In the Gospel passage, Jesus chose to turn his back on the multitude who needed His healing touch and comforting presence and moved on to other towns because " .. it was what I was sent to do".

    My other take on the Gospel passage is this. While it is well and good to seek out Jesus in our need, praying that He will "straighten out" all our problems, sometimes (for me) it is enough just to rest in His Presence, knowing that He cares for me and has my very well-being at heart. The problem is we often cannot wait.

  2. I consider my most important role (what I have been sent to do) that of mother to my 2 kids, then wife, daughter and finally, co-worker. All of my various roles give me stress, and a big stress is balancing them all out.

    I'm not a superwoman or alpha-mummy, and I have made a conscious decision to take a lower-paying, less stressful position with regular working hours so that my office job does not affect my other roles.

    Prayer helps me as we should not keep our troubles and worries to ourselves. It is often not useful or helpful to confide in loved ones if they cannot help.

    Although God often does not provide a solution, just pouring our my worries and concern out to God is a great relief. God does not provide a quick fix but He always guides me on the right path.